Education Emergency: AJK leading in enrolment, lagging in quality
While Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) boasts the highest literacy rate across Pakistan, it struggles to provide quality education to its children. This was pointed out by Alif Ailaan education emergency campaign, said a press release.
According to official figures, the literacy rate in AJK is 72 percent (compared to 58 percent across Pakistan). Primary school enrolment is 95 percent for boys and 88 percent for girls which is higher than any other region of Pakistan. Together with this, the gap between the enrolment rates of boys and girls is much lower in AJK as compared to rest of Pakistan where wide gender disparities exist.
However, when compared to the figures released by the Pakistani government, there appears to be a discrepancy between statistics since official figures reveal that the primary level enrolment rate for AJK is only 65%, which is much lower than the figures quoted by the Government of AJK.
AJK Minister for Education Mian Abdul Waheed, said, “the government of AJK is proud to have achieved one of the highest literacy rates in the country, but this is just the beginning. We still need to improve the standard and quality of education so that learning-outcomes really begin to have an effect in our economy and our quality of life.”
Independent studies indicate that AJK is failing to deliver quality education. According to ASER 2012 figures, two in five students of class five are unable to read a simple story in Urdu, whereas sixty percent of students are unable to do simple mathematics.
Research suggests that lower students per classroom tend to have higher chance of contact with teachers, hence better learning outcomes. Unfortunately in AJK, on average there are 58 students per classroom. Experts see this as a contributing factor to low learning outcomes of students.
The Parliamentary Secretary of Education, Sadaf Sheikh said, “the high enrolment in AJK is proof that our strategy is working. However, we are aware of the problems and are working to amend them. Our focus is not only on improving access to education but also on improving the quality.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2013.